My eldest daughter, Molly, had taken her car to be repaired in the city just before the earthquake. As the city is shut now, she and her husband are down to one car. Her husband works for a structural engineering company, so these days his work starts early and goes late. So with no car, their house declared uninhabitable till further checks are made, her job and university at a stand still, she helps me. I just have to get her from her friend's house so she can.
I went to pick her up at the closest mall to where she is staying. Her friends were going there to do some jobs. Actually, most of Christchurch seemed to be heading to that mall that day. I think that might be because it is one of the few malls not damaged by the lastest quake. It was bumper to bumper traffic. Really.
In Christchurch, BE (BEFORE EARTHQUAKE) we could come in late and say, 'Sorry I'm late, the traffic was terrible." This would produced awful visions of sitting at red lights with ten or twelve cars in front of you. The sympathy of evey person in the room would be with you. AE (AFTER EARTHQUAKE--gosh you had the figured out didn't you?!) with the city center roads blocked by police and army (and yes, they are actually parking tanks at some of the barriers...INCREDIBLE SIGHT!), and many other roads full of workers trying to repair the infrastructure of the city, the rest of the roads are clogged with traffic. It doesn't seem to matter that 70,000 people are rumoured to have left the city if you are trying to get to the mall, because the rest of the people here have hit the road, headed to Hornby Mall to find them.
Or maybe they were going there for that forty percent off all clothing that Farmer's Department Store (the only nation-wide department store chain in this country) has offered to the people of Christchurch as gift. I must admit, the temptation to drop into to Farmer's was too great for me...and I needed to pick up my daughter from the mall anyway! Richard was informed of the decision to check out the sale, after all, I've been through an earthquake. Okay, the rest of the city has too, but come on, most of my clothing are in a house that I'm not allowed to enter. Richard agreed (did he really have any other choice?). Go ahead, get a Stress Dress. Isn't he clever?
But hey, it works for me. I've never been much of a career girl. Couldn't do the Power Dressing thing. Never dressed for sucess either. But these days...I can Dress For Stress.
When I finally reached the mall, in that bumper to bumper traffic, finding a parking space was impossible. There are wonderful stories of genoerosity all over this city since the earthquake. But I don't think any of them are centred around parking spaces at a malls. Irritation and anger levels looked to be at an all time high as people waited for those precious spots to park their cars. I drove around and saw the ramp heading up to the car park building. It isn't exactly high, only one story, but there are now visions in my head of places I have been, places I have parked, where cars are crushed. I almost passed on by, to go fight for a spot on the flat when I saw that little neon sign. You know the one, often on those ramps....89 spaces available. There were 89 spaces available in the parking building, while people tooted their horns at one another on the flat. I bit my lip, and drove my car, with my precious Maddee in the back seat, up that ramp.
I said to myself as I drove up, as I say to myself now...I will not be afraid. I will not live in fear. I will not expect an earthquake. I will not change who I am. I will live on. I will do the business of life. I will love my family. I will pick up my daughter. I will boil my water. I will help my neighbor (especially those in the Eastern Suburbs!)
I'm a Christian. I believe that life and death lie firmly in the hands of God. I do not need to fear that an earthquake will take my life or the life of my child (though I sometimes have that fear), for that life is God's and one day it will be taken. But when it is, it will be by the will of God and that is that.
I bought my Stress Dress. Actually, I bought two. And I think I rather deserved them. There was no earthquake, not even a little aftershock, but I thought about them the whole time I was there, and they dominated the conversation of my daughter and I. But that's okay. We did what we needed to do. We got on with living life. And we even laughed about how scary it can be to park a